The Earth Slows Down Causing More Earthquakes to Come
Researchers indicate that the Earth slows down and that could cause more earthquakes in the future. They predict that numerous devastating earthquakes will come next year due to the fact that Earth’s rotation altered. The study intends to raise awareness when it comes to earthquakes, trying to inform people about what is about to come next.
This year, we experienced six devastating earthquakes. The years to come might not be as mild as this one was. Specialists indicate that next year we could experience more than 20 severe earthquakes. Furthermore, the most dangerous ones might appear in tropical areas where billions of people live. The small changes which have occurred in our planet’s speed of rotation might boost huge seismic activity.
Why is the Earth slowing down?
Experts claim that as the Earth slows down, vast amounts of underground energy are released. Other scientists have rejected these predictions, arguing that they stand no ground. The tidal forces between the moon and the Earth are causing the rotation of our planet to slow down. The Earth’s side which is closest to the moon feels the strongest pull while the opposite side feels its gravity less.
Hence, the difference in gravitational pull can stretch the Earth, triggering tidal bulges. The bulges tend to pull the moon farther or closer to our planet, the variation being of about 4 cm every year. The moon imposes its force on the farthest and closest points on Earth and pulls them back toward it. Therefore, it develops friction, and then the planet’s rotation slows down.
The time our planet needs to make a full rotation on its axis can vary by almost a millionth of a second per day. Even if the rotational rate has not declined evenly, the average day is now longer. The rate with which it increased varies between 15 millionths and 25 millionth of a second on an annual basis. Researchers from the University of Montana and the University of Colorado in Boulder argue that the smallest fluctuations, even those that measure only a millisecond, could be dangerous.
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What is the correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquakes?
These fluctuations can influence the seismic activity to increase. Dr. Roger Bilham from the University of Colorado says that this connection between earthquake activity and the rotation of our planet is strong. He argues that this correlation could trigger numerous severe earthquakes next year.
The experts who presented their research during the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America did not have a concrete answer when they were asked why. They do not exactly know why Earth’s rotation triggers more dangerous and frequent earthquakes. However, they think that this might happen because of minuscule variations in the speed of Earth’s rotation.
These variations seem to trigger a shift similar in shape with the Earth’s nickel and iron “inner corner”. During this time, the Earth’s mantle appears to stick a bit more to the crust. Hence, this changes how outer core flows. In this way, a mismatch appears between the mantle and speed of the solid crust.
In turn, this could alter the liquid outer core on which the tectonic plates of the Earth sit. Dr. Bilham explains that their mechanism indicates that as the Earth slows down, the equatorial diameter slowly reduces. The waistline of our planet can get smaller, but tectonic plates on Earth will not alter their size. Hence, they will get crumpled up. The changes in speed rotation that may seem to be insignificant would actually have a massive contribution when it comes to the occurrence of new earthquakes. In the past century, researchers had already discovered five periods when the numbers of earthquakes were more increased compared to other periods.
There were other 5 similar periods in the past
By studying previously registered data, specialists figured out that on these five occasions, there was a 25% to 30% increase in the amount of earthquakes that had a magnitude higher than 7. Scientists indicate that all these occasions coincided with other times when our planet’s speed of rotation slowed down. That is why they are now tempted to predict similar changes in the earthquakes’ patterns for next year.
Previous models proved that this could be possible. Next year might bring a major increase in the number of dangerous earthquakes. Since 1990, over 80% of all the severe earthquakes on the eastern Caribbean plate boundary happened in five years after the Earth has slowed down. The years following a maximum deceleration may bring up to 30% more severe earthquakes on an annual basis.
Dr. Bilham says that previous models indicate that the Earth is offering us the chance to prepare for about five years. Then, dangerous earthquakes could rock the world, turning it into pieces. Statistics indicate that the maximum deceleration of the Earth this time started over four years ago. Hence, we do not have too much time to find appropriate solutions to survive the earthquakes to come. The most pronounced delayed global seismic productivity is at equatorial latitudes 10 degrees N-30 degrees S.
Some geologists disagree
Despite the fact that the study seems to be clear, looking back at previous data and analyzing previous patterns, many geologists are still skeptical. Some of them even believe that the correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquakes is just fortunate. John Callan is the communications manager at GNS Science.
He argues that the new study appears to be a conference presentation, instead of being a peer-reviewed study. He considers that there is no detail for other geologists to examine. However, he admits the fact that there have been some period in the past 100 years with increased rates of large earthquakes. Nevertheless, Callan says that maybe there can be other correlations with other natural phenomena too.
Geologists believe that the new findings need to rely on more details, having a solid ground. Probably, a peer-reviewed study would be more helpful, proving that what it may come next year could be tragic. Scientists say that the speed of rotation of our planet can be related to earthquake patterns, triggering more frequent and more severe ones in the upcoming year.